IA-01: NRCC tips hat to Ben Lange

Not put off by picking the wrong candidates in two Iowa Republican primaries in 2010, the National Republican Congressional Committee has elevated Ben Lange to “contender” status in Iowa’s first district, while taking a neutral posture in the second district primary.

Lange was one of several Republicans to challenge Representative Bruce Braley in IA-01 last cycle, but he didn’t get recognition from the NRCC until after the primary. Instead, the political arm of the House Republican caucus favored Jim Gibbons in IA-03 and Rob Gettemy in IA-02. Gibbons finished a distant second to State Senator Brad Zaun in the race to challenge Leonard Boswell, while Gettemy finished last among the four Republicans running against Dave Loebsack.

The NRCC’s “young guns” program for challengers in Democratic-held districts has three tiers. “Young guns” receive the most financial and organizational support from the NRCC, followed by “contenders.” The lowest tier candidates are “on the radar.” The NRCC put Lange “on the radar” soon after he made his candidacy official. Today Lange’s campaign announced his upward move in this press release:

NRCC Elevates Ben Lange in Young Guns Program    

Only Candidate to Meet Rigorous Organizational Goals in IA-01

INDEPENDENCE, IA – The National Republican Congressional Committee today elevated U.S. congressional candidate Ben Lange for the second time this year as part of the NRCC Young Guns program due to his campaign’s ability to meet rigorous organizational benchmarks.

The Young Guns program is an avenue through which a Republican congressional candidate may receive additional national assistance in defeating the divisive and extreme agenda of Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) in Iowa’s 1st district and other districts across the country.

“We are looking forward to working with Ben Lange, who has already proven himself by meeting rigorous benchmarks in the ‘Young Guns’ program that will position his campaign for victory,” said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX). “Ben Lange’s dedication and experience enables him to advocate effectively for pro-growth policies and fight the failed status quo in Washington. This will stand in stark contrast to the Obama-Pelosi record of spending, borrowing and taxing that Iowa families and small businesses know has failed.”

Lange recently raised 11 times the amount of resources as his closest competitor in IA-01 and is the only candidate to have united a broad base of support across the 1st district. Lange has earned the support of key Tea Party activists, College Republican leaders, state senators and representatives, former congressional nominee and current State Senator Brad Zaun, among many others.

About

Ben Lange is a faithful husband and loving dad to three little girls. He grew up in a working class family in Quasqueton, IA. He was the first in his family to earn a four-year college degree. Ben was the 2010 Republican Nominee for U.S. Congress in Iowa’s 1st congressional district. After winning his Primary by 30 points, he united the Republican Party and, despite being outspent by Braley’s campaign committee nearly 5 to 1, Ben held Braley to less than 50% of the total vote and fell short by a mere 1.95%. Today, Ben has established one of the state’s best organizational and financial infrastructures. He has recruited a Steering Committee consisting of a broad coalition of activists, officials, and community leaders to help guide his candidacy, and he has earned the support of Republican state senators and representatives throughout the new 1st district.

Click here for more details on the fundraising by Lange and his primary rival Rod Blum.

I wonder why Brad Zaun got involved in the IA-01 primary. It’s nowhere near his Iowa Senate district in Urbandale. Several other Republican legislators are backing Lange for Congress, but they live in the district where he’s running. Yesterday Lange announced endorsements from the following “Tea Partiers and 9.12ers”:

– Jenn Jones, Jones County 9.12 group

– Jim Conklin, Linn County Tea Party & Iowa Conservative Union

– Tom Boeckmann, Tea Party Conservative from Benton County

– Thomas Hansen, NE Iowa Tea Party Coordinator

– Walt Tegtmeier, Oelwein Tea Party

– Charlie Albrecht, Bremer County Tea Party

– Les Feldman, Dubuque County Tea Party

9.12 groups were inspired by the conservative media personality Glenn Beck.

Blum has much less establishment support than Lange, but he has the backing of many conservative activists, including the Liberty Iowa PAC, affiliated with some Ron Paul supporters. Cedar Rapids Tea Party Founder Tim Pugh came out for Blum last week, and Dubuque Tea Party co-founder Michael Heeren announced his support for Blum yesterday. Bleeding Heartland covered Blum’s previous endorsements here.

Blum and Lange are scheduled to debate each other on May 21 at 7 pm in Cedar Rapids. The two candidates appeared at a forum in Grinnell on May 12.

Lange has purchased radio advertising in IA-01 but hasn’t released any television commercials yet. To my knowledge, Blum has not run any paid advertising.

In Iowa’s second district, where two candidates are challenging Loebsack, the NRCC is hedging its bets. Both John Archer and Dan Dolan made the “on the radar” list in February, and both got bumped up to “contender” this week. Archer and Dolan have raised comparable amounts of money for their campaigns. Archer was the first to pay for radio advertising and has run multiple television commercials on Fox News cable. Dolan made a limited tv buy and has sent out district-wide direct mail. Dolan’s campaign launched a 90-second web ad this week, but I doubt he can afford to run a spot of that length on television before the primary.

Any comments about Iowa’s first or second Congressional district races are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: On May 18, Lange’s campaign sent out this press release:

State Representative Renee Schulte Endorses Lange    

“Iowans are hungry for a fresh, unifying figure”

INDEPENDENCE, IA – State Representative Renee Schulte today endorsed Ben Lange as the unity candidate for U.S. Congress in Iowa’s 1st District. Schulte represents House District 37 which covers the Cedar Rapids area, the most populous city in the district.

“After careful consideration, I’m excited to endorse Ben Lange for Congress,” said Schulte. “Iowans are hungry for a fresh, unifying figure to represent them in Congress and Ben Lange has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to unite a broad coalition of support behind his candidacy. If we, as a party, are to be successful, we must reject the destructive politics of anger and division in favor of a more productive politics of honesty, persuasion, and unity. There is one candidate in this race who fully embodies these values and I’m happy to give him my support.”  

Lange issued the following statement: “Renee is a devoted and tireless public servant who shares my interest in building coalitions to solve the most critical problems facing Iowans. Coalition-building will be critical to solving the defining problem of our age — our national debt crisis and our nation’s overall economic well-being — and I’m proud to have Renee on our team.”

Schulte joins nine other state legislators on Ben Lange’s steering committee:

State Senator Tim Kapucian (Benton)

State Representative Bob Hager (Allamakee)

State Representative Dawn Pettengill (Benton)

State Representative Walt Rogers (Black Hawk)

State Representative Steven Lukan (Dubuque)

State Representative Brian Moore (Jackson)

State Representative Lee Hein (Jones)

State Representative Josh Byrnes (Mitchell)  

State Representative Lance Horbach (Tama)  

Horbach and Lukan are retiring this year, but the rest of the Lange endorsers are up for re-election.

Schulte is running in the new Iowa House district 66 against the Democrat she defeated in 2008, Art Staed.

Kapucian will face the winner of a three-way Democratic primary in the new Senate district 38.

Pettengill will face Sandra Cronbaugh in the new House district 75.

Hager will face Patti Ruff in the new House district 56.

Rogers will face Bob Greenwood in the new House district 60.

Moore will face the Democrat he defeated in 2010, Tom Schueller, in the new House district 58.

Hein has no Democratic opponent in the new House district 96.

Byrnes will face Eric Hungerford in the new House district 51.

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